The Effects of Race on Self-Identity in Zora Hurston’s Essay

The dictionary defines self-identity as The recognition of one’s potential and qualities as an individual, especially in relation to social context (Merriam-Webster). Zora Neal Hurston explores her own self-identity in the essay How it Feels Colored Me. Hurston was born on January 7, 1891, in Notasulga, Alabama, although she always considered Eatonville, FL her hometown (www.zoranealshurston.com).

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The essay describes how the white society affects the author’s view of herself and her self-identity, and the way society’s opinion can inspire self-pride. Zora Hurston used variety of metaphors to explore and discuss her journey to develop her self-identity and self-pride.

Zora Hurston was living her life without any feelings of self-identity at her childhood when she was living in the Eatonville town, because she was with same colored people. So, she feels all the people looks like her and she believes everybody Zora. Only she saw some white people crossing the town, everybody else were same colored people. She was self-pride herself   singing and dancing speak pieces(Hutson 1060) and comforting herself by watching on the road side actions in her front porch in that childhood time, but once she moved from her home town for schooling, she became colored girl. She says that . but I was their Zora nevertheless. I belonged to them, to the nearby hotels, to the countyeverybody’s Zora (Hurston 1060). When she departs away from home, she feels gratified with other African American people and she was a chameleon in between the black and white people that came through her town. . Hurston emphasizes the joy she felt in being an intermediary between her own culture and that of the white foreigners: (Heard 145). Hurston’s early experiences with two cultures, set her up to develop a confidence in herself and how she viewed her identity with both groups of people.

I started writing new, but my mind is not working Zora Hurston did not question her self-identity while she was growing up an Eatonville FL, because everyone looked like her and shared her culture. Zora Hurston was describing her everyday life in Eatonville where she had pleasant conversations with her neighbors, sang and danced on the streets of Eatonville; she observed her environment from a comfortable spot on her front porch. During that time, she was everybody’s Zora; free from the separation of feeling of different. Later on, she left home to attend a boarding school where she becomes a colored girl (Hurston 1060). She goes on to explain, . but I was their Zora nevertheless. I belonged to them, to the nearby hotels, to the countyeverybody’s Zora (Hurston 1060). When she departs away from home, she feels gratified with other African American people and she was a chameleon in between the black and white people that came through her town. . Hurston emphasizes the joy she felt in being an intermediary between her own culture and that of the white foreigners: (Heard 145). Hurston’s early experiences with two cultures, set her up to develop a confidence in herself and how she viewed her identity with both groups of people. 

Zora Hurston’s strong self-identity allows her to feel proud of her race and her culture. Hurston stated that she does not see or consider herself tragically colored and begins weaving together self-representations based on her own ideas of herself that illustrates her self-pride. She is excessively caught up with “sharpening her oyster knife” to stop to consider the pain that discrimination may cause, and as a “dark rock surged upon” she raises all the deeper feelings for any hardships that she has needed to persevere in order to maintain her feeling of defiance in the face of that discrimination. Hurston does recognize the minutes when she feels her (or others’) racial variations and judgments, and her description of the difference between and her interactions with white customers and black customers at a jazz club demonstrates the separation between their lives (Hurston 1060). By becoming a sharp knife and a dark rock, she strengthened her resolve to be herself. Regardless of what other people thought about her and despite how they treated her, she always focused on what she wanted to do and they way she viewed herself.  

 

Hurston builds up an expanded metaphor in which she matched and compared herself to a brown colored bag loaded down with arbitrary bits and weaves. She compares all people of different races to various colored bags that, if purged into an expansive heap and re-stuffed, would illustrate the fact that all people are the same. This illustrates that people, regardless of race, are basically of similar human character. Hurston finishes up by attesting that “the Great Stuffer of Bags,” the Maker, may have molded people this way from the beginning. Along these lines, Hurston cultivates a point of view that looks away from pride in one’s race to pride in one’s self (Hurston 1061). The metaphors of the colored bags represent Hurston’s opinion about race and how race should influence how people regard themselves, and how they should consider others. She clearly believes that the color of a person’s skin has no bearing on the character or worth of an individual. This further demonstrates Hurston’s strong sense of self and pride in who she is. 

Zora Hurston describes her journey of self-discover, identity, and self-pride with metaphors that represent ideas of race and character and how those ideas both separate and connect American society. Zora Hurston struggles and comes to terms with society’s view of who she should be as an African American woman and her own ideals of self-identity and self-pride. Even though she was criticized by her own community for associating the white community, and while she didn’t really fit in to the white community, her self-pride was enough to inspire her own self-identity to have the confidence to bridge both sides. How It Feels to Be Colored Me is a combative poem that clearly did not fit with the philosophies of racial discrimination of the times, nor did it totally interlock with the blooming of black dominance of the arts related with the Harlem Renaissance. In the poem, Hurston divorces herself from “the sobbing school of Negrohood” (1060). Hurston that expects her to persistently make a case for over a wide span of time shameful acts. She can rest during the night realizing that she has carried on with an equitable life, never being scare of the “dark ghost” (Hurston 1060) that may wind up alongside her in bed. Through her clever words, Hurston conveys a great message of self-acceptance to challenge the attitudes of her time about race, culture, self-identity that we can apply to our times.

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